Great Construction

The Lessons of Defeat

     That Japan lost the war means that Japan was saved. Still fresh in our memories is the period when we fell to the depths of pessimism, experiencing turmoil the worst ever that affected all classes of citizen. In truth, however, this situation was only temporary, and when we look ahead, I do believe that rather than pessimism, the future is a matter for great optimism. Let me explain why.
     Japan achieved the pinnacle of success with victories in the First Sino-Japanese War and in the Russo-Japanese War which led to much conceit. Without any thought at all, Japan came in no time to have a self-righteous view of itself and to hold other peoples in contempt to the point where ultimately it started a war of aggression. How foolish of we Japanese not only to destroy civilization and massacre other peoples, but to sacrifice our own territory along with the souls of millions of our own people and to let our land become ravished under the enemy’s aerial bombing. The foolishness did not stop there. Amid postwar food shortages and starvation, lack of housing, inflation, and hellish transportation conditions, people cry out in anguish at the great misery, which is how we live today.
     For everything in the universe there is a cause and there is an effect. The fact that Japan was defeated in the war must have a cause, and this cause is abundantly clear. Unmistakably, terrifying evil was permitted to be repeatedly committed for the ambition of a minority of privileged individuals, so that the war ended in defeat was because God was not going to permit the evil to continue above that level. The arrival of the “divine wind” that was expected by most people did come on schedule. Places belonging to others that had been seized in violence—Manchuria, Korea, Taiwan, the Ryukyus, and Kuril Islands—were returned,. The fact that these territories were relinquished can only have come about because of the “divine wind.” There is no way that fortunes unfairly obtained can be monopolized for long. No reason exists on earth for a divine country to do whatever it wants. Through defeat I am sure that Japan was thoroughly cleansed.
     Moreover, to make it impossible for evil acts to be repeated, God permitted Japan’s armaments to be taken away. The few leaders of the perpetuation of the evil acts, pitiful though they are, could not avoid God’s solemn judgment. The “divine wind” did not stop at the judgment of individuals. We Japanese people had continued to boast and overly pride ourselves as being among the best nations in the world, and we gave no thought to the sufferings and misery of the other peoples of Asia. The privileged minority manipulated their authority to bind the liberty of the people, and the zaibatsu with uncontrolled greed and in collusion with the government sought to appropriate greater fortunes, and without shame deceived society with sham charities. Even though we had two political parties, they were merely puppets for the zaibatsu. Non-property owners worked and worked but still could not feed themselves. Freedom of speech and civil rights did not exist, and citizens merely led their lives each day behaving as machines. Even when reformers appeared, they were thrown in jail. In these conditions, the privileged classes glorified public order and stability, furthered their pleasures, occupied sumptuous mansions, possessed several automobiles, reveled in pomp and glory, and gave no thought to those crying in hunger. There is no way that such unreasonable social conditions could continue for long. Sure enough, time brought about their ruin and they could not avoid receiving the fate they deserved. It is truly the depths of wretchedness. In the same way that in prewar times I wanted to save those living in poverty, now I keenly want to help those who have fallen so low. I want to let these individuals know that there is an appropriate way they can be saved and that that way is faith.
     First of all, to know that the great change in the position in which they find themselves today is God’s fitting judgment is the beginning of their salvation. They should know that sincerely repenting of past mistakes and entering the path of faith is the only way to obtain true peace of mind. As these steps are taken, I firmly believe a greater sense of peace and a life even more happy than their previous days of glory may be had.

Essays on Faith, page 10, September 5, 1948
    translated by cynndd